FW: Edited version of this is in the Indy

Sebastian Budgen sebastian at amadeobordiga.u-net.com
Sat Sep 15 20:24:14 MDT 2001


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From: "TARIQ ALI" <tali68 at hotmail.com>
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 11:58:42 +0100
To: sebastian at amadeobordiga.u-net.com
Subject: Re: Edited version of this is in the Indy

Will Pakistan Jump to US Demands?
"Get Us Bin Laden" Order from Bush Could Spark Pakistani Army Mutiny

By Tariq Ali

On a trip to Pakistan a few years ago I was talking to an ex-General about
the militant Islamist groups in the region. I asked him why these people,
who had happily accepted funds and weapons from the United States throughout
the Cold War, had become violently anti-American overnight. He explained
that they were not alone. Many Pakistan officers who had served the US
loyally from 1951 onwards felt humiliated by Washington's indifference.

'Pakistan was the condom the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan', he
said. 'We've served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down
the toilet.'
The old condom is being fished out for use once again, but will it work? The
new 'coalition against terrorism' needs the services of the Pakistan Army,
but General Musharraf will have to be extremely cautious. An over-commitment
to Washington could lead to a civil war in Pakistan and split the Armed
Forces. A great deal has changed over the last two decades, but the ironies
of history continue to multiply.

In Pakistan itself, Islamism derived its strength from state patronage
rather than popular support. The ascendancy of religious fundamentalism is
the legacy of a previous military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq who received
solid backing from Washington and London throughout his 11 years as
dictator.

It was during his rule (1977-89) that a network of madrassahs (religious
boarding schools), funded by the Saudi regime, were created.

The children, who were later sent to fight as Mujahedeen in Afghanistan,
were taught to banish all doubt. The only truth was divine truth. Anyone who
rebelled against the imam rebelled against Allah. The madrassahs had only
one aim: the production of deracinated fanatics in the name of a bleak
Islamic cosmpolitanism. The primers taught that the Urdu letter jeem stood
for 'jihad'; tay for 'tope'(cannon), kaaf for Kalashnikov and khay for khoon
(blood).

2500 madrassahs produced a crop of 225,000 fanatics ready to kill and die
for their faith when asked to do so by their religious leadersDespatched
across the border by the Pakistan Army, they were hurled into battle against
other Muslims they were told were not true Muslims. The Taliban creed is an
ultra-sectarian strain, inspired by the Wahhabi sect that rules Saudi
Arabia. The severity of the Afghan mullahs has been denounced by Sunni
clerics at al-Azhar in Cairo and Shi-ite theologians in Qom as a disgrace to
the Prophet.

The Taliban could not, however, have captured Kabul on their own via an
excess of religious zeal. They were armed and commanded by 'volunteers' from
the Pakistan Army. If Islamabad decided to pull the plug, the Taliban could
be dislodged, but not without serious problems. The victory in Kabul counts
as the Pakistani Army's only triumph. . To this day,the former US Secretary
of State, Zbigniew Brezinski remains recalcitrant: 'What was more important
in the world view of history?' he asks with more than a touch of irritation,
'the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up Muslims or
the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?'

If Holywood rules necessitate a short, sharp war against the new enemy, the
American Caesar would be best-advised not to insist on Pakistani legions.
The consequences could be dire: a brutal and vicious civil war creating more
bitterness and encouraging more acts of individual terrorism. Islamabad will
do everything to prevent a military expedition to Afghanistan. For one thing
there are Pakistani soldiers, pilots and officers present in Kabul, Bagram
and other bases. What will be their orders this time and will they obey
them? Much more likely is that Ossama Bin Laden will be sacrificed in the
interests of the greater cause and his body dead or alive will be handed
over to his former employers in Washington. But will that be enough?

The only real solution is a political one. It requires removing the causes
that create the discontent. It is despair that feeds fanaticism and it is a
result of Washington's policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The
orthodox casuistry among loyal factotums, columnists and courtiers of the
Washington regime is symbolised by Tony Blair's Personal Assistant for
Foreign Affairs, ex-diplomat Robert Cooper, who writes quite openly: 'We
need to get used to the idea of double standards'.

The underlying maxim of this cynicism is: we will punish the crimes of our
enemies and reward the crimes of our friends. Isn't that at least preferable
to universal impunity? To this the answer is simple: 'punishment' along
these lines does not reduce but breeds criminality, by those who wield it.
The Gulf and Balkan Wars were copy-book examples of the moral blank cheque
of a selective vigilantism. Israel can defy UN resolutions with impunity,
India can tyrannise Kashmir, Russia can destroy Groszny, but it is Iraq
which has to be punished and it is the Palestinians who continue to suffer.

Cooper continues: 'Advice to post-modern states: accept that intervention in
the pre-modern is going to be a fact of life. Such interventions may not
solve problems, but they may salve the conscience. And they are not
necessarily the worse for that' Try explaining that to the survivors in New
York and Washington.

The United States is whipping itself into a frenzy. Its ideologues talk of
this as an attack on 'civilization', but what kind of civilization is it
that thinks in terms of blood-revenge. For the last sixty years and more the
United States has toppled democrat leaders, bombed countries in three
continents, used nuclear weapons against Japanese civilians, but never knew
what it felt like to have your own cities under attack. Now they know.

To the victims of the attack and their relatives one can offer our deep
sympathy as one does to people who the US government has victimised. But to
accept that somehow an American life is worth more than that of a Rwandan, a
Yugoslav, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Japanese, a Palestinian...that is
unacceptable.

 


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